as negotiations continue over the fiscal cliff. host: our series on the fiscal cliff continues this morning with a dive into social security. here to talk about the program and how it is involved in the discussions and the negotiations over america's financial future, is stephen ohlemacher, joining us from the associated press, where he is a reporter. thank you for being here. guest: thank you. host: how many people in america receive social security? guest: a little bit more than 56 million people get social security. the average benefit is a little over $1,200 a month. so maybe it is like $13,000, $14,000 a year. host: we're talking about retirees but also the disabled. guest: yes, fairly wide group of people get social security benefits, retired workers, spouses, children, disabled workers, widows, widowers. it is a fairly big social safety net of people who get social security benefits. host: as you mentioned about 56 million the retirees received a $1,2 a month. there is also the s.s.i. about $500 a month. how does social security get financed? guest: it has been a self funded program.